One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Conversations With Afghan Teacher; Part 13

“.... You may have heard that most of the earliest human civilizations developed on the fertile soils around the rivers in warm climates where growing crops were easier?...”
“A rudimentary information about the earliest river-civilizations like those of Indus, Euphrates, Nile, and Huang-He  are part of “GENERAL KNOWLEDGE” (As per tradition, serious students read the general knowledge books that were available in the bookstores, and also consumed newspapers regularly in order to be able to compete in the civil-services-examinations, and “general knowledge” was a mandatory part of the examinations.)” I stressed on the word general knowledge to show that I wasn’t that ignorant. “And I also know that rice cultivating civilizations had denser populations than civilizations thrived on wheat and corn 1.” I boastingly added.
“I’m not testing your knowledge.” He smiled. “I just wanted to make sure that you are included in the conversation, so you don’t get bored…”
“No, no…. I’m enjoying the conversation… please carry on...” I was embarrassed. “Actually, I’m not a good conversationalist.” I tried to hide my embarrassment.
“What was your best conversation that you remember?” Asked the teacher unexpectedly.
“Although, I had enjoyed the knowledgeable conversations, but I had enjoyed more the tales of old men about places that I hadn’t visited or the time that I had spent with my friends conversing hours randomly and talking nonsensically…”
“The knowledgeable conversation is very small part of the conversations that interest men. We are creatures with unbounded imaginations that are at work all the times…”

The teacher paused, and we looked down, at the city. The opposite mountains were half bluish-grey and half yellowish-grey. Despite all of its problems, it was a beautiful valley, particularly during early mornings and evenings. Something that was to be felt than to be described.

“You was talking about the river-civilizations?” I broke the silence.
“Oh, Yes..” he fixed his glasses. “I was saying that Sumer was one of the most innovative earliest river-civilizations. They introduced writing, laws, canal irrigation system, wheel and the famous flood story of Noah also originated there.”
“Balay Ustad.”
“The intensive use of land soured the soil and resultantly, the crop production decreased drastically. Despite all those innovations, the Sumerian civilization couldn’t survive the decrease in the crop productions….”
“That makes sense.” I interjected. “We witnessed the collapse of Soviet Union as a result of poor economy, despite being one of the world leaders in the technological advances.”
“While that’s right but it isn’t a one way road. I will come to that as well. Right now, let’s talk about how means of production and control of the production system shape social structures to a large extent.”
“Balay Ustad.”
“You can see there are more orchards than crop fields in this valley and we both know the reasons. Orchards require less water and labor to maintain, and  can grow on poor soils in comparisons to the crops…”
“Balay Ustad.”
“In comparison, to river-civilizations that were based on irrigation and good soils, there were orchard-civilizations in places that faced water shortage and poor soil conditions like those of Mediterranean basin. Olive was the chief of fruit of those orchards. Olives were fine with poor soils, less water and required less labor to maintain and yet it provided a fruit that didn’t spoil till a year, provided oil that had many uses from cooking to lighting. And more important was the fact that once an olive orchard was established, it lived for almost a millennium producing fruits each year…”
“Very impressive.”
“On downside, although olive trees are evergreen and regenerate upon damages, it takes from five to twelve years and some even twenty years to produce olives. So, a damage to an olive orchard required about a decade to produce olives again…”
“That’s very long time..”
“As olive growing civilizations didn’t have crops to maintain their populations, they traded their olives with those of the crop producing civilizations. You may have heard the story of Prophet Joseph and his brothers?...”
“Right, right.” I replied. “Joseph was from Canaan that became a minister in the Pharaoh's’ court. And the Canaanites depended on imported wheat from Egypt..”
“Right. As olive producing civilizations had plenty of free times and needed peace for their trade and olive orchards, they introduced in depth concepts of ethics, justice and brotherhood through democratic institutions and Philosophical schools in the Greek islands, and Abrahamic institutions and schools in the Mediterranean basin. What we know of today's world are mostly based on ideas borrowed from those orchard institutions…




  1. (Although rice has lower calories *130 to 216 per 100 grams depending on rice type* than wheat *339 calories per 100 grams*, but rice had greater yield than wheat per hectare * for instance before 1960, a hectare of rice could sustain 5.63 people and a hectare of wheat could sustain 3.67 people*. Rice producing regions like, South Asia and most of East Asian countries had dense populations and are still the most dense population centers. In comparison to the rice and wheat, corn has 86 calories per 100 grams and till around 1930 had similar yield per hectare as that of rice, however, since then, the corn yields have surpassed that of rice. Despite high yields, proto-civilization based on corn production like those of Mississipi river remained very small and short lived compared to other river-civilizations. Time and isolation *other river civilizations benefited from trades, sharing of ideas and technologies from each others* are few explanations offered.

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